A Prenuptial Agreement (or “prenup”) is a contract between between a couple before they marry. In New York, a prenup is only valid if it is signed prior to marriage. A prenup determines what will happen to certain assets, property, debts, and other items such as alimony in the event of legal separation or divorce. A prenup can be extremely useful because it provides the married couple with brightline rules over the division of separate and marital property without lengthy and costly court intervention. In the absence of a prenup, all marital property, or property acquired during the marriage, is subject to equitable distribution which is fair but not necessarily equal distribution based on a variety of factors. Further, without a prenup, the surviving spouse has a right of election to a substantial forced share of the deceased spouse's estate.